On the drive to Thursday's Vinoy Classic, Plant's Patrick Mills got a call from his golf coach, Josh McCumber. McCumber told Mills he had a feeling it would be a big day, as long as Mills kept his nerves.
"I've been having trouble lately starting with a low score and then choking,'' Mills said.
That didn't happen.
After a par on the 15th hole (his first of the day) Mills birdied four straight and cruised to a 3-under 68 to win the tournament's individual championship at the Vinoy Golf Club. He beat Newsome's Tyler Bakich by one shot and St. Petersburg's Blake Dyer and Jesuit's Alec Murawski by two. Dyer won a playoff for third.
Newsome won the team title after a two-hole playoff with Plant. Both teams shot 294.
Three-time Vinoy champion Lakewood Ranch was third with 297. Clearwater Central Catholic was tied for fifth with Jesuit with 310. Mitchell was eighth with 314.
"I started pretty hot but after that I tried not to change anything,'' Mills said. "I tried to stay aggressive and not give any shots away. It helped to get a call from my coach. It allowed me to focus on what I'm doing and not get too caught up in everything.''
Bakich, a Florida State commit, said he had to work hard for his 2-under 69 on a course that had extra fast greens.
"It was pretty much fairway, green, two putts,'' Bakich said. "It wasn't a spectacular day. My swing kind of fell apart at the end. It was a grind. Just simple birdies, some three putts. That kind of day.''
The team competition couldn't have been closer. Aside from Mills, Plant was led by Gunnar Raney (74), Robby Eisch (76) and Jackson Suber (76). Newsome was just as solid. Aside from Bakich, Mark Nauert shot 74, Andrew Wally shot 75 and Dhruv Patel shot 76.
Four players from each team were used in the playoff. They tied after the first hole, but Newsome got two more pars than Plant on the second playoff hole to win as darkness settled in.
"I was getting updates during the round and I thought we were out of it,'' Bakich said. "But then I come into the scoring room and we're tied. Hopefully states isn't too different.''
CCC was the top Pinellas school. The Marauders got 77s from Andrew Heric, Erich Klopper and Clark Lea.
Mitchell, the only Pasco school in the field, was led by Mike Spinger, who shot 75.
Dyer was considered one of the favorites since he is a member at Vinoy, but he said he couldn't get anything going.
"I bogeyed three, four and five and then just left too many putts out there,'' Dyer said. "I'm not one of those guys who says I should win, but I gave it away today.''
Contact Rodney Page at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @RodneyHomeTeam.
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Top 10 individuals
1. Patrick Mills, Plant, 68
2. Tyler Bakich, Newsome, 69
3. Blake Dyer, St. Petersburg, 70 (won playoff for third)
3. Alec Murawski, Jesuit, 70
t5. Tony Jiang, Sarasota Chr., 71
t5. Greyson Porter, Shorecrest, 71
t7. Jack Robertson, Seminole, 72
t7. Ryan Hicks, Countryside, 72
t7. Kyle Shealy, Canterbury, 72
t7. Kelly Sun, Lakewood Ranch, 72